SafetyCulture's Luke Anear on tech startups

SafetyCulture’s chief executive Luke Anear has helped make his company's work safety app the most widely used work safety software application in the world. It is used in more than 200 countries. Users of the app have conducted more than 12 million audits.

By ansaradaThu May 21 2015Innovation, CEO-CFO

SafetyCulture CEO Luke Anear, left, with Atlassian cofounder and CEO Scott Farquhar who has invested $750,000 personally in SatfetyCulture. Mr Anear spoke with ansarada about the technology startup culture in Australia, the availability of financing for tech startups and interest by American venture capitalists in Australian tech companies. Mr Anear started SafetyCulture in Australia's northeastern tropical city of Townsville.

What is the tech startup culture like in Australia?

Luke Anear: “Australians are getting better at building technological solutions. The country is growing its knowledge base. Universities are now doing a better job teaching. But what is lacking sometimes is self-belief. Still, the success of Campaign Monitor, Atlassian and Invoice2Go have inspired many people. I think there is a bright future for tech startups in Australia over the next three to five years. I’m very positive.”

How easy is it in Australia to get your ideas funded by onshore financial institutions or investors?

Luke Anear: “There is now a willingness from many people in Australia to fund startups. Those who funded the mining boom are now turning their attention toward technology. High net worth individuals and private equity firms are leading the charge. Angel investing, anywhere from $20,000 to $250,000, is available in Australia as well as seed capital, $100,000 to $2 million. There are also options for companies to tap investors for Series A funds, $2 million to $15 million. But I don’t think we will see a $250 million investment in an Australian company by an Australian venture capital firm soon.”

What is your assessment of the interest shown by American venture capital funds in Australian technology companies?

Luke Anear: “The U.S. VC market is very competitive. That means funds there have to branch out and look for investment opportunities in Australia, Israel or other places. Australian startups can go and pitch directly to such funds or if there is a buzz about them the funds will fly out here. But you have to be sure the fund is the right investor for you. U.S. VCs are now better at bundling up services to help startups by providing sales, marketing and recruiting support.”

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